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Abstract

On June 14, 2016, suspicions emerged that Russia launched a cyber attack on the U.S. Democratic National Committee in the midst of an extremely contentious presidential election season. The damage was extensive, occurring over a series of months and resulting in numerous leaks of highly sensitive information regarding Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton. After it was verified that Russia was behind the cyber attack, President Barack Obama relied on general and anachronistic principles of international law to issue a grossly ineffective response. Russia’s cyber attack and the U.S. response thus highlighted the ways in which international law fails to guard against and remedy state-sponsored cyber attacks. These attacks will continue to occur at an alarming rate and without adequate recourse unless a new international treaty is implemented. In order to be successful, this treaty would need to garner the support of the major cyber powers and be specifically tailored towards combatting state-sponsored cyber attacks.

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